Worsening Food Crisis in Nigeria, Ghana, and Other Countries: UN Agencies

Apr 16, 2024 | International | 0 comments

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), and World Food Programme (WFP) jointly highlighted the exacerbation of the food crisis in Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, and Mali due to currency devaluations, soaring inflations, stagnant production, and trade barriers.

Referring to the March 2024 Cadre Harmonisé food security analysis released by the Permanent Inter-State Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS), the agencies underscored the grim reality that nearly 55 million people in West and Central Africa will face challenges in feeding themselves during the June-August 2024 lean season. This represents a four-million increase in food-insecure individuals compared to the November 2023 forecast, marking a fourfold rise over the past five years.

Particularly alarming is the situation in conflict-affected northern Mali, where an estimated 2,600 people are at risk of experiencing catastrophic hunger (IPC/CH phase 5). The latest data indicates a significant shift in the factors driving food insecurity in the region, extending beyond recurring conflicts.

Economic challenges such as currency devaluations, soaring inflation, stagnant production, and trade barriers have intensified the food crisis, impacting ordinary citizens across the region, with Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, and Mali bearing the brunt. Staple grain prices have surged by 10 per cent to over 100 per cent compared to the five-year average, driven by currency inflation, fuel and transport costs, ECOWAS sanctions, and restrictions on agropastoral product flows.

Currency inflation particularly contributes to price volatility in Ghana (23%), Nigeria (30%), Sierra Leone (54%), Liberia (10%), and The Gambia (16%). Despite heavy dependence on imports to meet food needs, rising import bills due to currency depreciation and high inflation further strain countries grappling with fiscal constraints and macroeconomic challenges.

The cereal production deficit for the 2023-2024 agricultural season stands at 12 million tonnes, with per capita cereal availability decreasing by two percent compared to the previous agricultural season.

Margot Vandervelden, WFP’s Acting Regional Director for Western Africa, emphasized the urgency of action, calling for heightened engagement and the implementation of innovative programs to prevent the situation from escalating. She stressed the need for increased investment in resilience-building and longer-term solutions for West Africa’s future.

The UN agencies underscored the alarming levels of malnutrition in West and Central Africa, with 16.7 million children under five suffering from acute malnutrition and more than two-thirds of households unable to afford healthy diets. Additionally, eight out of 10 children aged 6-23 months fail to consume the minimum required foods for optimal growth and development.

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